While the world is struggling to get back on its feet after being handed a knockout punch in the form of the Covid-19 pandemic, a second wave of crisis has bubbled over. The state of peoples’ mental health. Several studies have shown the prevalence of mental health disorders like anxiety and depression in Malaysia is greater after the pandemic than before it.
Humans have an innate need to connect. It is essential to our survival. This Covid-19 virus has put us in a difficult situation as physical distancing is a factor that would decrease the likelihood of contracting the virus, which goes against our very nature to connect. With social isolation coupled with stress from the possibility of contracting the virus, job insecurity and financial strain, these factors present a perfect storm for a mental health crisis.
In Malaysia, the rising numbers of Covid-19 deaths has resulted in a lockdown, exacerbating the levels of fear, stress and anxiety among the people, both old and young. Adults are juggling between working from home and parenting, while children and youths are being isolated from much needed social interactions with their peers, an essential part of their mental and emotional growth.
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Additionally, domestic violence in Malaysia has been on the rise amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. It is defined by exerting power and control. During this crisis, the overwhelming stress, isolation and concerns over health and finances could aggravate an abuser’s desire to exert power and control. Victims of domestic violence are at higher risk due to being trapped in the house with their abuser, being financially dependent due to lack of opportunities to earn an income.
If there is one thing the Covid-19 virus has taught us, it does not discriminate. Anyone and everyone are susceptible to this virus. However, due to socio-economic factors, certain segments like single mothers and domestic violence survivors are amongst those at risk of facing mental health challenges.
PLEASE READ Reasons for not seeking professional help for mental health issues in Malaysia as of June 2019
What can we, as individuals and as society do to manage the looming mental health pandemic and to help those who need it most?
1. Self-care first
Before caring for others, it is essential to ensure your mental health is well. Make sure you take care of your own health and body by having proper rest, exercise and eating habits. Take breaks from watching or hearing about the pandemic on social media and news outlets as excessive amounts of it can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. Incorporating wellness practices such as deep breathing, meditation, affirmation and yoga would be highly beneficial.
2. Check-in with loved ones
In a way, we are fortunate that the Covid-19 pandemic affected our lives in the age of digital technology. While we cannot connect with our friends, family and community physically, we are able to utilize our mobile phones, tablets and laptops to connect to one another.
Although chances are that your friends and family may not share with you if they are facing mental health challenges, knowing that you are checking-in on them and being there for them is important as emotional support is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing.
3. Organize events that can benefit your community
There is no help too big or too small. Organizing events which can help connect individuals from a community to come together and laugh, play and/or share their stories would be of great help. While it does not substitute the need for professional help for those who need it, it can help an individual manage their mental health challenges better.
As an individual and as a healer practitioner, I felt a strong need to organize an event that would benefit mothers, particularly single mothers and mothers who are or were in abusive relationships. This resulted in the creation of the “Sponsor-A-Mum” program in which funds were raised to enable mothers to receive healing, support and simple tools that can help them manage their emotional health. These group healings do not subsitute for professional help. Rather, it is complimentary. I am grateful to all the kind-hearted donors who believed in my intentions to extend support to the community. I believe it is during difficult times like this that we see the best of mankind.
The program is currently ongoing and has available slots for mothers who would like to receive healing and support to manage their stress and anxiety.
For more information on the Sponsor-A-Mum program, contact May Kuen at 016-222-7083 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Additional inputs by Ethel Da Costa
For additional reading on mental health in Malaysia, please check this link: https://jchs-medicine.uitm.edu.my/images/manuscript/vol3issue1/review/p5-12/The-Burden-of-Mental-Illness-An-Emerging-Global-Disaster.pdf
About the Author: May Kuen Choo, founder of May Kuen Heals, started her healing practice with one goal in mind; to help others dare greatly. With her combined background in psychology (B. Arts from the University of North Texas) and as certified healer practitioner (Divine Intervention, Hanafuda Magic, Light Language & DNA Healing), she provides various healing services to her clients to enable them to heal, clear and manifest the lives they want and deserve.
Her services can be found at www.maykuenheals.com
Follow @maykuenheals on Facebook and Instagram for healing tips and wisdom.